Retail companies are struggling to meet the demands of customers – but, I’m not talking about running out of fabric or other supplies. I’m talking about the demand for models that accurately represent women and all of their body types.
Aerie, American Eagle’s lingerie brand, was the first major retailer to make the move with their Aerie Real campaign in January 2014. The spring collection’s advertising included models of several sizes and virtually threw out Photoshop. Monitoring the fashion and retail industries as much as I do, I can assure you this is pretty groundbreaking. But for fall 2014, another brand took it one step further by making their efforts social – ModCloth.
— Aerie (@Aerie) February 27, 2014
This means…no more retouching our girls and no more supermodels! pic.twitter.com/EsCF85A43B
— Aerie (@Aerie) January 17, 2014
ModCloth is a 100% online retail brand that specializes in retro- and vintage-style clothing. They rely on their social community to be brand advocates to increase sales without an in-store experience. They are a model for an online retail brand. With free returns and exchanges, buying from the site is risk-free. They cater to their customers by providing a platform for comprehensive reviews, where customers can post their measurements and talk about how a particular item fit them along with a photo. Without a doubt, ModCloth has been celebrating all body types for a long time.
Recently, the brand brought the body image issue to the forefront and encouraged their followers and other brands to get involved. Here’s a breakdown of their #fashiontruth campaign and what it could mean for the future of fashion brands on social media:
They Brought the Issue to Light
How do you start a conversation online? Give people something to talk about. ModCloth brought body image and media issues to the Internet’s attention with their Truth in Fashion report. The brand surveyed 1,500 women and had some shocking key findings, including that 62% of women think the fashion industry is harmful to women’s body image. With this report, ModCloth established their case and made way for their next big move.
They Took Action
ModCloth has featured models with a variety of body types for a long time, but they were the first retailer to sign the Heroes Pledge for Advertisers, promising to not alter body shape, skin color and other physical attributes of their models during post-production. Since then, other brands have signed the pledge, with the hopes of pushing the Truth in Advertising Act through the FTC.
They Made it Timely at New York Fashion Week
After signing the pledge at the end of August, ModCloth took advantage of New York Fashion Week in early September and set up a “Casting Call for All” in SoHo. During the 6 hour event, anyone could have their picture snapped by the brand’s photographer during an open casting call and share their “Fashion Truth” – a quick phrase about how fashion is a positive force in their life. The event sparked quite a conversation about body image and the media during a week that’s all about the highest of fashion and the tiniest of models.
— ModCloth (@ModCloth) September 3, 2014
— ModCloth (@ModCloth) September 3, 2014
They Made It Social
Why stop at fashion week? ModCloth continued their #fashiontruth campaign online, encouraging their followers and fans to share photos themselves. ModCloth is featuring one of these followers each month in a full online spread, giving everyone the chance to be a model, no matter their size.
— ModCloth (@ModCloth) September 12, 2014
— ModCloth (@ModCloth) September 20, 2014
They Rocked It
The impact on social is obvious – just check out the hashtag on Twitter search. Though conversation has slowed since the initial launch, the brand keeps it alive by posting user photos and more blogs that cover related topics. But it’s not just on social that ModCloth has seen an impact from #fashiontruth. According to compete.com, unique website visits have increased more than 200% since the beginning of the year. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if sales spiked during this quarter and continued steady growth. If the brand didn’t have loyal customers before, you can bet they do now. Plus, the brand had media coverage in Forbes, AdWeek, TODAY.com and numerous other local outlets. Not too shabby for a niche online shop.
So, what does this mean for the future of fashion? This fashionista thinks there is a long way to go before there is total body equality in the fashion industry, but ModCloth has taken a step in the right direction. But, if Aerie and ModCloth see spikes in sales from these campaigns, then it’s inevitable that other major retailers will follow in their footsteps. The conversation is online, so brands can’t ignore it any longer. It’s time to step up and change the face of fashion and America’s body image.